Tuesday, August 12, 2008




KTHV, AR - Authorities say in an attempt to stop the violence, a neighborhood on the Westside of Helena-West Helena is under a 24-hour, non-stop curfew that could be extended for days. . . . Mayor James Valley says the impacted area is violence-prone. So from South Sebastian to Fourth Street and Anderson to Garland Street, no one is allowed out. He says it's, "to curtail some of the general mayhem we've been experiencing, particularly the gun shots," says Valley.

ARKANSAS ACLU - This order is blatantly unconstitutional on numerous grounds. First, such curfews have never been allowed under the laws of the United States, barring riot, insurrection, or natural disaster. Not one case has ever allowed for the imposition of searches, seizures, and house arrest against innocent citizens because of the high crime rate in a particular city. . .

Second, requiring adult residents of the city to be on house arrest violates these individuals' rights to travel and association, as guaranteed by the United States Constitution.

Third, the very language of the Order violates the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, in that, in effect, it proclaims that the Fourth Amendment is waived for all persons, including those suspected of no criminal activity. The warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment is in place specifically to prohibit these kinds of sweeping searches. Law enforcement, even in areas where there are higher crime rates, is not a sufficient basis upon which to place people on house arrest, or set aside the Fourth Amendment.
Fourth, the Order likely violates Helena-West Helena residents' rights to equal protection under the laws. . . .

The residents of Helena-West Helena have the right to sit under shade trees in their front yard, to ride their bicycles along the streets, protest this policy, and drive around the city with the full protections of the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Citizens, including those expressing opposition to the curfew order, should be subject to no special scrutiny by law enforcement unless they are suspected of some criminal activity.


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